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Does the Right to Life Trump Property Rights?

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Jonathan, in an earlier post in this thread, you spoke of dogmatic pro-LP folk. Quite candidly, I see you using the exact same dogmatic methodoloy except that it is anti-LP. I see no fundamental difference in the "truth value" of your "arguments" full of straw-men, evasion and hyperbole, bundled into a structure of argumentation and similar ones that I see from pro-LP dogmatists.

Also, I disagree that anyone who agrees with LP on the mosque issue is being dogmatic. To assume so sounds like the worst type of caricature of "Fact and Value". One does not judge people in that way. Once again, in doing so you share a methodology that the most dogmatic folk employ.

Personally, I think dogmatists on both sides make cesspools of forums, with their dependent and other-oriented rants.

No, I'm not accusing anyone of being dogmatic, or of dogmatically following Peikoff. I thought that would have been clear from the fact that my criticisms have been aimed at certain people who disagree with Peikoff on the mosque issue. They are not displaying dogmatic conformity to him and his ideas, but obsequiousness in their dissent, and inconsistency and massive disproportionality in their judgments of Peikoff compared to others: they've very publicly denounced others as "enemies of Objectivism" and "false friends of Objectivism," etc., for having comparatively minor disagreements, yet here Peifoff is advocating violating the first 'Objectivist Commandment'-- Thou shall not initiate physical force -- as well as the second -- The right to life is the right to property -- and they're thanking him and praising him for his half-baked rationalizations.

Also, I'm not accusing Peikoff of being dogmatic in regard to this issue. I think he's been dogmatic at times in the past. The McCaskey ordeal comes to mind ("I hope you still know who I am and what my intellectual status is"), as well as his intimidation tactics years ago in advising people how to vote. But in the case of the mosque, I wouldn't say that Peikoff is being dogmatic so much as absurd. He's taken a very anti-Objectivist position.

He obviously began with the conclusion that he doesn't want the ground-zero mosque to be built, and that he wants to use the force of government to prevent it, and then concocted absurd rationalizations to support that position, and he apparently didn't think it through very carefully or even test the basic logic of his position by putting it into the form of a syllogism:

Certain people are threatening to initiate force against us and are endangering our 'metaphysical survival.' The danger is clear and present.

We have the right to defend ourselves with force against those who are threatening our 'metaphysical survival.' We don't have to sit around and let them destroy us.

Therefore our solution to this grave imminent danger should be to let the people who we claim are threatening our 'metaphysical survival' walk around free amongst us, but we won't let them build a mosque in a location that has symbolic significance to us.

So, no, in this case I'm not calling Peikoff "dogmatic," but saying that he's deviating from Objectivism -- about as far as one can deviate -- and advocating a ridiculous position.


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Is Objectivism at war with America? Does the presence of Objectivist literature in Oklahoma City...

I have no time at the moment, but I just wanted to mention that I've read your post and am looking forward to answering it and continuing the discussion when I have time. Hopefully tomorrow or Friday.

'til then,


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...What I find interesting is how sweet and tolerant certain Objectivists are in response to Peikoff's ...

Apparently someone is deserving of absolute rage and moral condemnation for proposing something like the idea that Objectivism is an "open system," but we should be oh so respectful, tolerant, polite and understanding when Peikoff ...

It is actually quite irrational not to treat with utmost respect (and politeness) someone you know to be a greater master than yourself in a field in which you have interest, no matter how wrong you think what they are saying is on some particular issue.

When you learn this, you have a good chance of actually becoming wise :)

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Is Objectivism at war with America?

No, Objectivism is not at war with America, nor is Islam, Catholicism, Kantianism or any other philosophy or religion.

Does the presence of Objectivist literature in Oklahoma City near the site of the bombing inspire people who are trying to kill Americans or destroy property? Does Objectivist literature inspire people to initiate force in any way?

Atlas Shrugged played a part in inspiring McVeigh. He cited AS in his writings. And, as I mentioned earlier, prominent Objectivists have claimed that Howard Roark's destruction of others' property was "morally legitimate" and "logical." That could be seen as proof of advocacy of initiation of force, or, at the very least, of the advocacy of massively disproportionate, unjust and extralegal retaliatory force (vigilantism). Anyone wishing to use Peikoff's methods against Objectivists, and use the force of government to deny their property rights, could cite such facts.

Do you have any proof that any Islamic literature or building near ground zero in NYC has inspired, or will inspire, anyone to kill Americans or destroy their property, or that it will inspire anyone to initiate force in any way?

Is the presence of Objectivist literature at Oklahoma City near the site of the bombing a propaganda victory for those who violate the rights of Americans?

I'm sure that if the issue were to become a public controversy, we could very easily find victims' family members who would claim that the displaying and selling of Rand's novels in OKC constitutes a propaganda victory for violent anti-government types like McVeigh. But I thought the issue was our metaphysical survival, and not a mere "propaganda victory." Are you saying that you think that Objectivism supports the idea of denying others' property rights if we feel that their use of their property constitutes a propaganda victory against us?

Does the presence of Objectivist literature in Oklahoma City give a morale boost to those who violate the rights or Americans, and demoralize those who are protecting America?

It gave a morale boost to McVeigh, so I don't see why it wouldn't do the same for other potentially violent people. But I really don't see the relevance of the "morale boost" argument. It is not a crime to give a moral boost to anyone. The only relevant issue is whether anyone poses an imminent threat to what Peikoff calls our "metaphysical survival." Certain rap lyrics and even opera librettos could be seen as giving a "morale boost" to those who would perpetrate violence, but I don't want to distort Objectivism so as to deny property rights to rappers and opera companies.

Are you an Objectivist? A student of Objectivism? Or just some guy here to criticize Objectivists?

I'm defending Objectivism against people who are distorting it for the purpose of advocating violating others' property rights.

You seriously don't even understand why it was right for Dagny to kill the guard in that context?

I don't think that it was right for Dagny to kill the guard. She easily could have bound and gagged him. But my judgment of the scene is not a moral criticism of Rand, but an aesthetic criticism -- I think the scene comes across to me (and to many others) in a way that Rand hadn't intended.

In that case, what did you think about the train wreck, where Ayn Rand listed everyone on board, tallied their views and ideas, and then narrated that no-one of value was lost? (They all died, just in case you didn't realize that.)

I think the train wreck scene is a little too cold for my tastes. It's often interpreted as a punishment fantasy, and is exactly the type of thing that would be used against Objectivists to deny their property rights using Peikoff's methods.

What do you think about the fact that Francisco left Dagny to fend for herself for all those years while he was in Galt's Gulch?

I think there are some minor problems with the plot of Atlas Shrugged here and there, some of which involve people behaving in unrealistic ways in order to serve the plot. Frisco's not telling Dagny -- the love of his life -- everything about the friends he met at school is one such problem, as is his not doing everything possible to include her in the stopping of the world. Again, that's an aesthetic criticism, and not a moral one.

What do you think about the fact that John Galt made it harder on Dagny and Rearden and everyone else by taking away the people that society needed most when they were needed most?

I have no problem with Galt withdrawing from society and luring others into doing the same. Withdrawing is not initiating force. It makes sense.

What do you think about the way the book ended? Do you think that those things were evil too?

No, I don't think that the idea of people withdrawing from society is evil. I only think that the initiation of force is evil, and the disproportionate/unnecessary use of retaliatory force, and I'm disturbed by the psychology of anyone who would feel less than they'd feel about killing an animal when killing someone who is unknowingly a pawn in a larger conflict.

Do you understand Ayn Rand's reasons for any of the things she wrote?

Do you understand the absolutist black-and-white-ness of Ayn Rand's morality?

Yes, and I agree with the Objectivist view of property rights, which is why I oppose Peikoff's views on the issue.


Edited by Jonathan13
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I'm unsure why you give that a special name. One fundamental idea is that rights of all kinds are contextual, property rights too. If you think Peikoff misapplied principles, that's one thing (and I'd agree on that point), but I can't tell if you're saying that rights apply at all times in a deontological way.

I gave it a special name so as to distinguish Peikoff's views from Objectivism. My purpose was to stress that the theory is Peikovian rather than Objectivist, and not to take issue with contextuality of property rights per se.


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